Pizza Stop #27:
252 W 26th St
Chicago, IL 60616
Today’s pizza review is from Ricobene’s, a Chicago staple that is most known for their Breaded Steak sandwich.
While this is their last standing location, they used to have a2 others in Chicago. As a child in the 90s, Ricobene’s in the “Super Mall” plaza on Pulaski was one of our favorite family spots. Inside it had a 1950s diner theme with tons of 50s/60s memorabilia displayed on the walls. They even had functional jukebox song selectors installed at every booth. It truly was a great and unique restaurant. As a child with rather basic tastebuds, I’d regularly enjoy their cheese fries, pizza slices or meatball sandwiches.
In the late 2000s I moved out of Chicago with my family to a country town over in LaSalle County. When I moved back to Chicago on my own a few years later, one of my first thoughts was “man, I could really go for some Ricobene’s”. Fast forward a few days later I head out and anticipate the food ahead. I arrive and was suddenly heartbroken and surprised to find out it was no longer there and was now some random Mexican restaurant.
While unfortunate, at least there is still one location standing to get my Ricobene’s fix (which is the original). This location is a few minutes away from the Chinatown area on 26th street.
Admittingly, I don’t go here very often as I’m not around this part of the city much, but I try to go a few times a year to get my fix. Now that I have this page going, It was the perfect excuse to stop in again. This was actually the very first post I made on Tour De Pizza – Chicago, but as this was early and brief content, I knew I had to circle back around and give Ricobene’s a proper review.
As I entered the restaurant, there was a guy eating who noticed me taking photos outside and goes “Hey.. the pizza guy right!?”. I was confused for a second, but it turns out he had recognized me and knew about Tour De Pizza.. so that was a pretty cool first time occurrence. I just hope pizzeria owners don’t start noticing me as well or the review from a “normal customer experience” will be altered.
As you walk in, the restaurant is spacious and while I prefer the look of the Pulaski location better, this one has a nice and more modern dining room.
Service was great. I called in my order and despite being busy, I was in and out in no time. While I was there I remembered someone recommended I try another item so I also picked that up.
Onto the pizza review! Here I ordered a large 15” deep dish pizza with pepperoni and sausage. When I was ordering and saw the total, I thought for sure I had to have clicked the wrong item. This pizza has to be one of the cheapest deep dish pizzas you’ll find anywhere in the city. The large 2 topping pizza was only $22.79 total. This is like 1990s prices, especially for a heavy deep dish pizza. It’s refreshing to see that despite their popularity, they still choose to keep reasonable prices.
This is an awesome deep dish pizza and is one of my favorites tied with Lou Malnati’s. I grew up eating Ricobene’s pizza, so this may be why I later loved Lou Malnati’s (I didn’t try Lou’s till about 2011). The deep recipes are very similar. In fact, I would not be surprised if they share some of the same suppliers. The sausage tastes almost identical with the same flavor profile and texture. They also have a similar sauce with stewed tomato chunks in it, but this is where the similarities stop. They have their own great tasting pepperoni and crust. Ricobene’s uses a softer cornmeal crust which is different but tastes great. Once reheated the next day, it turns crunchy and oddly tastes even better (well, if you cook it In a convection toaster oven at least.). If you’re a fan of Lou’s deep dish, I can almost guarantee you’ll love Ricobene’s as well.
I also picked up cheese fries and if you’ve been to Ricobene’s, you will know the awesome fresh cut fries they have that are good on their own, but even better with their cheese.
Lastly before I walked out, I remembered and decided to pick up a slice of Breaded Steak pizza someone on here recommended to me. This was a slice I’m glad I picked up. While this may look like a regular slice of pizza on the outside, it was far from it. The crust looked thin on the edge, but the slice looked fat so I was a bit confused at first. However, as I took my first bite, it turns out this slice is more like a pie than it is pizza. There’s a thin crust at the bottom, but on top of that is a generous and thick layer of breaded steak that is covered with cheese. Until you take a bite, its hard to even tell there is that much meat on there. While this honestly did not taste like pizza very much, it was a fantastic and great tasting slice that was packed with flavor thanks to the breaded steak. As I’m writing this a few days later, I can still taste it and already want another one. For my latin community, this is basically a tender “Milanesa” covered in red sauce. If you don’t try the pizza, definitely try the sandwich at least!
Edit: I reached out to the owners and apparently all Ricobene locations were all family owned and operated. As for my favorite location by Super Mall, it was there and did great for over 20 years, but apparently students at Curie High School were allowed to leave on lunch breaks so this is where a large portion of their sales came from. After they changed this rule, they saw a large dip in sales and made the decision to eventually close it. So, If it wasn’t for the Curie rule change they’d likely still be there.. damn you Curie High School!